Medical Tourism


I always try and encourage patients’ to have surgery as close to their home as possible, making pre-and post-op visits so much easier and of course, being close to their surgeon in the rare case of a complication. But we do know that people travel all over the United States for surgery with specific doctors. I have that happen in my own practice. So the concept of “travel” isn’t a new one.

Now when we talk about travel abroad for medical services we are almost always involving an aspect of medical economics. As Americans, we know that we have an extremely competent medical system. But we also know that in relation to the rest of the world, we have the most expensive. Healthcare in America can come at a very high cost. This means that at times, many Americans are unable to afford the highest level of healthcare services that they feel they may want or deserve. This is true of the aesthetic medical field as well. As I said above, my advice would always be to have your surgery done as close to home as possible. However, there are simply many people who would never have a procedure done if they had to pay local prices. In a global market as we have now, and with multiple companies and individuals outsourcing, it comes as no surprise that this phenomenon has surfaced in the medical industry.

Ultimately however, when seeking out medical attention here or abroad, quality and safety must be the top priority. Unfortunately, here at home as well as in other countries, there seems to be no shortage of unscrupulous practitioners portraying themselves as experts in their field and yet never having completed a recognized training or credentialing process. The medical experience for a patient is daunting enough even in a qualified and legitimate environment.

Now it would very disingenuous of me to seek training abroad , as I did in Brazil, use and tout the techniques learned, only to return and label the surgeons there as “hacks”…So I won’t do that! They have some of the most talented surgeons in the world, surgeons that regularly come to our meetings here in the U.S. and lecture at our sponsored educational events. So I think the quality and talent certainly exists. My real concerns are twofold. First, it may be harder for a person here in the States to adequately assess the skills and setting of surgeon abroad. But one great resource for prospective patients is the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. On their website under “Find a Surgeon” you can enter the country of interest and a list is generated of the doctors who have sought out certification through that society, and while that does not guarantee a perfect experience, it is always a respected and trusted place to start! Second, there is the distance and care involved in case a complication did occur. Domestic travel is a bit easier than International, although at times is seems that can be debated!!!

So as always, do your homework, understand the risks and limitations and above all, never let cost be your only factor in getting the best surgical and medical care that fits your needs…